Re: I hope you include all religions there
@Hargrove Like the previous poster, I suspect you are a religious apologist rather than anything approaching an impartial observer. The biggest reason for my suspicion here is that I did indeed acknowledge that this sort of authoritarian mindset can exist outside of the welcoming bosom of religion, yet you seem to feel that I not only did not say this, but that the existence of this mindset outside of religion somehow removes religion from consideration in this matter.
Yes, authoritarian pricks exist outside of religion. But religion is, by a country mile, the biggest refuge of these types of people. The existence of exceptions does not invalidate the rule.
The problem isn't religion per se. If you want to believe idiocy, go right ahead, that's up to you. The problem is that we, as a society, give religions special dispensation. Everything from tax breaks to special legal (and in crazy countries, even constitutional) protections. This makes religions the perfect place for authoritarians to hide and attempt to build their power.
The result? While individual religious followers may not all be authoritarian douchecnaoes, religions almost universally are. The social construct of religions are dangerous. The existence of them as a class of thing separate from a corporation is a huge problem.
Religions are businesses. Businesses built on intolerance, guilt, shame, shunning and - above all else - fear. Like all businesses power and money are the end goals and they will cajole, manipulate and coerce anyone and anything to achieve their ends.
Some handful of religious believers that might sometimes be good people doesn't change the above. Individual belief rarely amounts to anything on a society scale. But the institution of religions can - and does - have massively negative consequences, especially as the special treatment we give these organizations makes them the perfect lure for the authoritarian powermongers in our society.
Lastly, it is a terribly human fallacy to presume that we are "normal". That what we perceive ourselves to be is somehow indicative of "the average" or "everyone else", if not for the world as a whole, then certainly for the social groups with whom/which we choose to self identify.
An Atheist may be passionate in his lack of belief, but it's a really, really, really, really, really rare occurrence that an atheist proposes a law allowing atheist business owners to refuse to serve people of faith, or gays, or any other group. Religious groups churn that sort of bigotry out on a daily basis, and that's just in the US of A!
I have also never encountered atheists going door to door to tell you to "lose Jesus" or somesuch. Athiests may not believe ardently, but they don't tend towards using that lack of belief as a rationale for oppression or bigotry.
Note: refusal to be tolerant towards intolerant bigots is not bigotry.
If you want to start towards a society where religion is something other than a massive net negative, let's start by ripping up every single "special treatment" reserved for religion out there. Religions should register as corporations. Not-for-profit if that is what they indeed are (as opposed to Scientology, which is emphatically for profit.) Charities if they do charitable works.
But no special protection. If you believe, or don't believe, or anything in between you are treated the same. No tax breaks. No superpowers. No get out of jail or get out of corruption or get out of oversight free cards.
Make religions no more enticing a place than your local anti-cancer charity and the distribution of authoritarian douchecanoes will massively change. They won't be able to hind behind the special protections of religion anymore, so they'll have to move on elsewhere.
Maybe then individual belief will mean something. As it stands, what you believe means nothing. What matters is what people do in the name of religion, with billions of dollars to throw around, and special protections no other class of organization enjoys.